Sept. 14, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 15th-ranked University of Notre Dame volleyball team (7-2) again struggled offensively and this time ran into a team who was able to convert opportunities, as South Carolina (4-5) took a four-game match (30-26, 30-27, 24-30, 31-29) Sunday afternoon in the Joyce Center in the final contest in the Shamrock Invitational. Three Irish players earned all-tournament honors, which were based only on the first two days of action: senior OPP Katie Neff (St. Louis, Mo./Cor Jesu Academy), senior OH Jessica Kinder (Fresno, Calif./Bullard H.S.), and sophomore MB Lauren Brewster (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood H.S.), who earned MVP honors. Notre Dame will next play host to Purdue Wednesday at 7 p.m. (EST).
The loss snapped a 35-match regular-season home winning streak for the Irish, marking the first non-postseason loss in the Joyce Center since a 3-0 defeat against #7 Colorado State on September 23, 2000.
The Irish posted a .165 attack percentage Sunday after hitting .138 in a five-game victory over Utah on Saturday. Brewster led Notre Dame with 15 kills, while sophomore MB Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.) had 12 on a team-best .310 attack percentage. Junior OPP/OH Emily Loomis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers H.S.) had 14 kills.
A bright spot for the Irish was the continued improvement of their defense. Notre Dame had 71 digs, completing the week with 284 in five matches, averaging 17.8 per game. In the first six matches of the season, the Irish were averaging 11.8 digs per game, ranking them last in the BIG EAST Conference. Freshman L Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) and sophomore OH Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) led the way on Sunday, both posting season-best totals, with 20 and 17, respectively. Jessica Kinder also had 14.
South Carolina hit well in the first game, cranking 18 kills while making five errors, hitting .333. With the score tied 15-15, the Gamecocks won five consecutive points and never surrendered the cushion.
Notre Dame led through most of the second game, but with the score tied 25-25, South Carolina made a move, winning four straight points and then converting on its third game point.
The Irish never trailed in game three and led by as many as seven in getting on the board.
Game four appeared to be more of the same, as Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead, 9-4, and was winning 22-15 before South Carolina followed a timeout by winning seven consecutive points to tie the game. The Gamecocks had the first game point, at 29-28, but a Loomis kill evened the score again. After an Irish attack error, South Carolina got a kill from Shonda Cole to clinch the victory.
Notre Dame’s net play was led by Kelbley, who had one solo block, while assisting on five more.
Jessica Kinder’s jump serve resulted in four Irish aces, matching her career high.
Throughout the tournament, Brewster had 33 kills and 22 blocks (1.69), while accounting for a team-high 48.5 points. Neff registered 30 kills on .244 hitting, the top percentage on the team. She also had 14 blocks. Kinder led the Irish with 47 digs (3.62), while addding 17 kills, seven aces, five assists, and three blocks.